Though the local scene is bristling with talented musicians, finding a receptive audience is a tad difficult. Gautam Mahajan talks to local bands to crack the anomaly.
Bangalore has long been known for its rock music scene, no matter what genre. The city has been host to some of the biggest bands in the world, and with great success too. Despite clearly having an audience for rock, it is surprising that no local band have ever made it to the mainstream.
And it’s not like there is a dearth of talent in the city. On the contrary, the city is filled with talent with musicians experimenting with different genres and sub-genres of music and pushing the envelope of creativity. But is there an audience for music that is not the usual run-of-the-mill commercial stuff?
“There is a growing audience for indie music in Bangalore and the other metros of the country,” say the members of Clown with a Frown, one of Bangalore’s most popular bands.
“However, people need to start going to more live venues to discover and support local artists. Being appreciative of local bands also goes a long way in building up the music community as a whole.” Winners of various music competitions including the prestigious Strawberry Fields Forever in 2012, Clown with a Frown, a nine-piece funk rock outfit, has made quite an impact in the city thanks to their energetic performances and distinctive brass-tinged sound.
Another typical problem faced by most bands is an actual venue to perform. However, according to Groove Chutney, the scenario is changing as quite a few performance venues have cropped up over the last few years. The popular blues band lists some of their favourite venues.
“Legends of Rock, Koramangala has played host to almost every band in Bangalore over the years. The crowd is always loud and energetic and it's a rush to play there live. B-Flat, Hard Rock Cafe and Opus are some of the great venues to play at in Bangalore. Bak Bak Bar is also a great place,” they say. The three-piece band, playing for over two years now, have garnered a fair bit of success in the local music scene, with their style and originality being greatly appreciated and breathing new life into the typically overdone blues rock genre.
Why aren’t alternate genres and styles not being embraced by the general public?
Space rock band Space Behind The Yellow Room, who started performing in 2012, try to answer: “We feel people like the familiarity in what they hear and understand easily. People really need to know what else is out there. A major change that needs to happen is that people have to break out of their comfort zones. For example, why should instrumental bands be of any less value than a band with vocals? With this kind of music, people really need to be patient and get absorbed. After all, something is being communicated through it. You just have to listen.”
The group make a valid point considering the experimental nature of their music, which consists of ambient sounds and a unique ‘spaced out’ feel. For a band that has such a niche sound, it is doubly important that people have open minds to try to give this kind of strange, yet stunningly rich and creative, music a listen.
It is important to note that a few years ago, bands who had a ‘different’ sound would have ceased to exist after their first few performances simply due to lack of support. So what has changed? All the above bands whole-heartedly agree that social media, especially Facebook, has been an important tool for upcoming bands to showcase their talent and keep people informed about future performances, new tracks etc. And thanks to the ease of merely ‘liking’ a band’s page, even fans can keep track of their favourite local musicians.
India as a whole has never been entirely receptive to rock music. A few bands enjoyed moderate success before fading into oblivion. The above three artists are only a few among many such talented youngsters who wish to make music a medium of communication. The good news is that now there is a sea of change.
People are accepting new genres of music and are showing interest in original music as opposed to popular covers, which has been the norm for a long time. Who knows, maybe this could be the start of something special for Indian rock. Or maybe it’s just a passing fad. So, is there a future for indie rock in this city, and the country for that matter? Only time will tell. But for now, the future looks promising.